Vintage Summer Getaway: Old Orchard Beach, Maine
I was pretty sure it was 2009 when I hopped in my friend Lisa’s Volvo in
Boston, but when we parked in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, two hours later, I felt like we’d driven back in time into the 1950’s. Our intended beach getaway had magically transported us to the midst of classic Americana in all its kitschy, fun glory—think neon lights, vintage diners, old-school motels, and waterfront amusement park, not to mention the slow-pace of a much simpler era….
“OOB,” located a half-hour south of Portland, is known for its gorgeous, uninterrupted seven-mile stretch of beach anchored around a historic pier and boardwalk. We stayed at the charming family-owned circa-1890 Ocean House Hotel; grabbed egg-and-cheese bagels with spicy home fries from the pickup window at Tom’s on West Grand (10 W. Grand Ave.) on the way to the waterfront amusement park; and doused French fries with vinegar at Pier French Fries (12 Old Orchard St.) for a late afternoon seaside snack. And of course it wouldn’t have been a true weekend in Maine without some succulent lobster—we ripped into a spread from Bayley’s Lobster Pound (lobsters $11) and feasted on some of the freshest crustaceans any of us had ever sunk our teeth into.
If you’re searching for ideas for an affordable late-summer weekend getaway complete with a retro vibe, I think you may have just found your spot.
The Gulf Islands National Seashore is Back!
The Gulf Islands—a string of seven scenic barrier isles with white sand beaches, nature trails, and historic fortifications that stretch from the southwest corner of Mississippi to the east end of Florida—have finally reopened after suffering severe damage in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina, and are ready for visitors. About $42 million in all—$23 million for facility and infrastructure repairs (trails, buildings, campground, cleanup, etc.) and $19.1 million for all the roads—was spent on clean-up and repair efforts.
While each island has something to offer, our favorite is quiet Santa Rosa Island. Start your trip on U.S. 98 and take it to the new Naval Live Oaks Visitor Center (850/934-2600) in Gulf Breeze, Florida, where you can peruse books about local natural history. After crossing a three-mile bridge, head west on Fort Pickens Road for seven miles until you reach the 1829 stronghold; after, you can spend the afternoon on the snow-white beach, or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, snorkel off the pier to spot seahorses, pinfish, and the remains of the USS Massachusetts, a 1920s battleship. From there, pick up J. Earle Bowden Way, a winding road along the Gulf of Mexico with views of bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the distance.
Courtesy by travelandleisure.com